Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Sporting News: Habs Players Snubbed

Thanks to Mike Boone for keeping up his posts and fishing this one out:

The Sporting News has named Bob Gainey National Hockey League Executive of the Year.

Gainey received 12 of 28 votes cast by league executives. Detroit vice-president/GM Ken Holland was second with six votes.

Sporting News Coach of the Year Mike Babcock got six of 18 votes cast by his peers, while Guy Carbonneau picked up five votes to finish second.

Alex Ovechkin was named Player of the Year, picking up 250 of a possible 287 votes in a poll of players conducted for the magazine. Evgeni Malkin finished second with 18 votes.

The Sporting News named Patrick Kane Rookie of the Year. The magazine's All-Star team includes Martin Brodeur, Mike Green, Nicklas Lidstrom, Ovechkin, Malkin and Jarome Iginla.

How funny that the year the players put it together and Gainey does little more than watch his previous work come to fruition, it is Gainey that is honoured and the players, namely Markov, that are snubbed.

I am excited for Washington that they are up and coming and made the playoffs for the first time in a while, but I don't think they necessarily merit 33% of the places on the all-star team for the season. One can hardly argue with the selections of Brodeur, Lidstrom, Ovechkin, Iginla and Malkin from this past season, but Mike Green should be up for discussion.

Questionable choice

Mike Green is definitely an up-and-comer, but I would hesitate to lay this honour on him just yet.

For on thing, the Capitals were not a good defensive team. While Lidstrom led defencemen in the NHL for scoring, he also led his team to the Jennings trophy. Green, while scoring 18 goals and 56 points led his team to a tied 17th best GA record (tied with Phoenix, no less).

For another thing, the Capitals play in what is hands down the worst division in the NHL. They played 32 games against division rivals, all of whom missed the playoffs. Most of their success came against these teams, as well.

Finally, I thought everyone was in agreement that Washington Capitals = Alexander Ovechkin. At least, that's why a player from a seventh place team is the heavy Hart trophy favourite, right? I would suggest that Mike Green without Ovechkin is probably a lesser player than all the alternatives (who incidentally, all play without Ovechkin).

My 6th All-Star

Looking through the league I see at least three legitimate candidates who would supersede Green in my ranking:

1) Dion Phaneuf
Already a Norris trophy candidate. Plays well at both ends. And, unlike Green, his team's seventh place finish came in what is probably the toughest division in the NHL.

2) Zdeno Chara
We saw what kind of a defender he was in our series. And, having seen what else Boston has to offer, it wouldn't be a stretch to say Chara led a team pretty much bereft of talent (certainly Ovechkin-calibre talent) to the same number of points as Washington in a much tougher division.

3) Andrei Markov
Outpointed Green. Led his team to first overall in the East. Choreographed the best PP in the league. Played on a defense that was significantly stingier in much tougher divisional games. What's more, he did it all without Ovechkin (with all respect to Kovalev).

I select Andrei Markov for the team instead of Green. He not only has better credentials than Green to make it, but the Canadiens deserve to be recognised for the season they had (and Markov would be a good representative) rather than the Capitals being given a double gong for pipping the flailing Canes at the post.

As if to prove the point, in the last head-to-head, Markov's Russia prevailed. Let's hope the next magazine gets its selections right...

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